The New York Law Journal ran a first-page story today (unfortunately, I cannot link to it because it requires a subscription) about an experiment unfolding in New York's appellate courts. The Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, Gail Prudenti, purchased two Kindle DXs to be tested by the court's judges. Other digital reading devices are being tested as well. Justice Prudenti said that "The objective [of the pilot project] is to see if we can enhance the productivity of our judges and decrease printing." She is looking to the future, when there will be a "non-residential bench and the prospect of a paperless court."
Only six of the 22 judges on the panel are based in Brooklyn. The rest commute from chambers scattered from the east end of Long Island to the mid-Hudson valley, lugging thousands of pages of documents for each court session.
All of those documents can be scanned as PDF files into the Kindle DX ...
Two justices tried out the Kindles in November, and then turned them over to two other justices for testing. "So far, the device has earned mixed reviews." One common comment was that it is easier to refer back to paper documents than to the same documents on the Kindle. The justices liked not having to haul around large quantities of paper, and thought that use of the Kindle was environmentally responsible because it does cut down on paper. An ongoing concern is "security of court documents" because the "Kindle does not come with a password protection feature, and its contents would be easily accessible if the device was lost or stolen ..." However, security could be compromised with paper files if they are lost or stolen. Another potential drawback to the Kindle is that the "user is limited to viewing a document and cannot make alterations like writing notes in the margins." A practitioner, Jeffrey D. Osterman, of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, thinks that the Kindle could help individuals with impaired vision because the type size can be manipulated; also, the documents could be read aloud through a computer. It's too soon to tell if this pilot project is a total success, but it's worth watching.